September 17, 2014
Northern Ingenuity and Engineering Revolutionises OSR Trials Establishment
Large-scale oilseed rape trial establishment has been revolutionised at Agrii’s new Bishop Burton Technology Centre and across its expanded northern England trials network this season thanks to the ingenuity of North Yorkshire field trials specialist, NDSM Ltd and the skill of local engineering partners.
Over 2000 high quality ‘double width’ plots have been established for the company in half the time previously taken using a novel machine developed from two identical 1.5m plot drills. This has proved invaluable in allowing all the drilling to be completed before the end of August despite the very wet weather which so comprehensively disrupted northern fieldwork.
“Using 3m plots from which we only harvest the central two metres means we can completely overcome edge effects from leaning and entangled crops at harvest which can make narrow plot OSR trials data so unreliable,” explained NDSM founder and operator, Nigel Metcalfe. “However, establishing them always required two passes with a conventional 1.5m plot drill, seriously limiting our daily drilling capacity as well as leaving a central wheeling.
“To overcome both problems we bought two Wintersteiger drills and grafted them together to run off a single gearbox. It took a good four months and not a small amount of engineering skill to achieve the absolute accuracy and functionality required. But we had the new machine fully operational in good time for this season’s drilling and it certainly proved its worth.”
Although the NDSM-designed drill requires two operators feeding the side-by-side seeding units, it has shown itself to be far more efficient than the old system in practice, really impressing highly experienced Agrii northern R&D manager, Jim Carswell.
“With the weather so comprehensively against us this season, the extra speed has been vital in getting all our OSR plots drilled in good time,” he stressed. “And the quality of establishment has been extremely consistent. Together with the added reliability of data from our 3m plots, timely and consistent drilling are equally essential if we are to accurately tease out significant differences between varieties and agronomic regimes for the best, research-led grower advice.”